LOS ANGELES -- Eccentric singer Michael Jackson is apparently determined to buy the skeleton of the 'Elephant Man' for his collection of exotic items, doubling his once-rejected bid to $1 million, a spokesman said.
The London Hospital Medical College, where the skeleton is on display, politely turned down Jackson's initial offer last month to buy the remains of John Merrick, a hideously deformed man with a rare disease who died in 1890 and inspired the hit movie 'Elephant Man.'
The amount of Jackson's previous offer was not announced at the time, but the singer's manager, Frank Dileo, said Tuesday the previous offer was 'doubled' to $1 million.
'The increase of his offer is not because he feels that money is the answer to the problem, but to show the seriousness of his intent and his guarantees to assume the responsibility of Mr. Merrick's remains,' Dileo said.
'Jackson's not trying to buy the remains at any price,' he said. 'He merely is offering a greater financial consideration which the hospital, any hospital, can certainly utilize in care of people.'
Merrick, whose life inspired a 1980 movie that was nominated for eight Oscars, became a darling of London society after a sympathetic doctor rescued him from a life in freak shows.
Dileo said Jackson has acquired an 'absorbing interest' in Merrick 'purely based on his awareness of the ethical, medical and historical significance of the 'Elephant Man.''
The multi-millionaire singer 'has no exploitative intentions' for the remains, Dileo said, but has become a 'student of ... Merrick, and has visited the hospital in London twice with great curiosity.'
The reclusive Jackson recently purchased an oxygen chamber to help him maintain hisyouthful looks. He also keeps several exotic animals behind the walls of his gated estate, including a deer, a chimpanzee and a llama. City officials recently balked at his attempt to include a giraffe in his collection.